Thursday, December 29, 2005

What's with China?

I’ve been watching a lot about China on TV lately. One of them was the obsession of the Chinese towards cosmetic surgery. You know those surgeries to enhance the eyelids, the nose and the jaw line to make it look more western. The cosmetic surgery industry is booming in China like mushrooms after the rain. It has been a great concern and discussion of the China government.

Then there was the Travel and Living Channel also highlighting a lot about China as tourism destination. Even in Taman Botani, we have hosted a delegation from Yunnan, China under cultural exchange programme whereby we donned our traditional costumes for the Yunnan media.

Well, my point is, it’s all about China nowadays.

I used to read one of the Nostradomus prophecies in one of the many books about it long time ago. He said something like there will emerge a man with black hair to rule the world and something of the sleeping dragon to be awake. Somehow, while I was reading those prophecies, I can’t help but to relate it with the emergence of China as a great power. I remember those prophesies but I can’t recall the exact verse or the title of the book anymore.

China used to be and will once again be the great power of the world. It’s like it has been fated that way always. In the Islamic teaching, the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has a famous saying that goes ‘tuntutlah ilmu walau sampai ke negeri Cina” or translated to “seek knowledge even to China you have to go” (from hadith Al-Buqari).

We have seen this throughout history beginning from the Voyage of the famous Treasure Fleet by Admiral Cheng Ho (or Zheng He). China has marked its foothold in many countries around the world as early as the 15th century about 80 years before the great voyage of Christopher Columbus. That’s just so amazing. China could have conquered the world!

The National Geographic Channel showed the documentary of the Admiral Cheng Ho and his seven voyages around 30 countries in the Indian Ocean. They traced back the route and it’s really amazing of how well they traced and revealed the proof of those voyages. The host Michael Yamashita has done a great job in elaborating the story in an interesting and positive ways.

It makes us wonder, what if China really conquered the world at that time. It would have been China who ruled Asia region and most probably Europe too. This is because China has the power to do it. Even their armada was way above the European might and technology at that time. They have so much to teach the world as what Cheng Ho did to all the places he had visited throughout his adventures, exchange of cultures and trade. The seven voyages made by Cheng Ho were on the basis of diplomacy and fair trade. An honourable characteristic of the one known throughout the world and it has been recorded in our history of Malacca.

Through the history of Admiral Cheng Ho, it was clear that he had traveled far and wide with bigger ships than the Columbus and also with the kind of technology that has sustained him seven voyages covering a distance of about 50, 000 km. This is something unusual for that era. However, China had destroyed its fleets during the rein of Ming Dynasty under the third emperor named Zhu Dhi as China mysteriously retreated from making any more voyages outside the world.

The National Geographic Channel recently has concluded that China could really conquer the world at that time in the 15th century but they didn’t. Why they didn’t was because they were not a greedy society and they were a content society who has strong belief in their culture and the Confucius teaching unlike the western countries at that period of time who later set sails to conquer, rule and destroy in the basis of power, out of plain greediness and selfishness. There, I’ve said it all. The last part was from me.

Look at what happened to our great city of Malacca. We have all the traces left by our conquerors, i.e. the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. It has shaped our country and the society of today. Isn’t it ironic?

Back to the subject of discussion of what’s with China? Believe me, there are lot of things to do with China. It is the centre of the world’s economy. We are talking of volume here. Imagine, with the population of 1.3 billion (as of July 2005), you could sell almost anything. It’s the ultimate place for trade. With economy, comes wealth and with wealth comes power. That’s the fact about China.

One last word though, better not mess up with the sleeping dragon. It’s lying in wait learning to use its power to burn you with fire. That was from Nostradomus, not me :)


  1. Well, China has done a lot of things right, and it is also one of the largest economies with a huge population. But it is important to understand that it is not the population alone that matters but the demography of the population. China have more and more people in the middle age and old age compared to young age. One reason being the government's aggressive drives to contend the huge population (& related problems like poverty, unemployment, education, etc.). So now we have a country which definitely is powerful but how long is that power going to sustain. That's the question. On the other hand, india is not exactly doing many things right. But it has a huge proportion of people under the age of 25. For marketers, it means they have a fixed consumers for atleast the next 20 years. So the times ahead are exciting and heady for both the economies. Let's see where things are headed.
    Nice article, interesting read.

  2. Hi Haridas,

    Thank you for your comment. I have no doubt that India is a powerful economy in the making too :)

    When you put your comment earlier, I was still in the process of editing the article. I got some difficulties in publishing the whole article, so I put it back to the draft mode until now that I have republished it and replied this to you.

    I wrote about China entirely in terms of power of trade always with India in mind (but have not make any statement about it) because my concern and real interest are not of the economy. It's more towards history and how I feel related to it through my everyday encounter of topics related to the Chinese, their culture and to see it all through my perspective as a Malaysian. I am truly facinated with the Admiral Cheng Ho ever since my school days as we have been taught about him and his significance towards the Sultanate of Malacca.

    To tell you the truth, the rest of the facts in my article here came naturally to me.

  3. This is an excellent article. I learned a great deal from it.



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